Former England lock Simon Shaw detects similarities in the leadership of Chris Robshaw and Paul O’Connell as the rival captains prepare to collide in Dublin on Sunday.
The Aviva Stadium will host the title showdown between the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the RBS 6 Nations, with bookmakers viewing Ireland as marginal favourites.
Even at 35, O’Connell remains the reigning champions’ heartbeat and Shaw is an admirer having played against the Irish talisman and under him over two brutal Tests for the 2009 Lions.
But Shaw insists Robshaw is building a strong reputation of his own with England under Stuart Lancaster cast in his image.
“Paul’s work-rate is absolutely phenomenal,” said Shaw.
“Paul might not make massive yardage or make the biggest hits, but he’s always there screaming at the scrum-half for ball and that enthusiasm from the captain brings the team through.
“Robshaw is similar in that sense for England. He might not say a massive amount nor be a showy player, but he’s one of those players for whom his team-mates would run through a brick wall.
“Robshaw had an edgy start as captain three years ago. Early on there were doubts over him not just as a leader, but also over whether he merited the number seven shirt. But he’s proved himself to everyone and in virtually every game he’s top of the stats.”